The US director of national intelligence said on Tuesday that Russia’s goals in the war remained large-scale, including building a land bridge across Ukraine’s Black Sea coast, but the Kremlin would struggle to make those gains without building its military. with a large army. scale mobilization or draft.
The official, Avril D. Haines, told the Senate Armed Services Committee that the next two months of fighting will be important as Russia’s President Vladimir V. Putin tries to revive his military campaign. But she said that even if Russia managed to take the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine, it would not end the war.
“We assess that President Putin is preparing for a prolonged conflict in Ukraine, in which he still plans to achieve goals beyond the Donbas,” Ms Haines said.
Ms. Haines said US intelligence agencies did not believe Moscow would be able to exert control over Donbas and the buffer zone that Russia wants to establish — over Ukraine’s Black Sea coast all the way to the Transnistria region of Moldova in the coming weeks. But she said the Russian leader was pursuing a longer-term goal.
“Putin also most likely judges that Russia has a greater ability and willingness to face challenges than its opponents,” Ms Haines said. “And he is likely counting on the determination of the US and EU to ease as food shortages, inflation and energy prices worsen.”
Lieutenant General Scott D. Berrier, the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, told the Senate Committee that neither side was winning.
“The Russians are not winning, and the Ukrainians are not winning, and we are in a bit of a stalemate here,” General Berrier said.
That stalemate, he said, could last a while. Under questioning from Arkansas Republican Senator Tom Cotton, General Berrier said Ukraine was better able to generate additional combat power. But if Russia declares a full-scale war and enlists the population widely, it could bring thousands more soldiers into the fray, General Berrier said.
Ms Haines said that as both Ukraine and Russia believe they can make military progress, a diplomatic solution does not seem feasible in the short term.
“The reality that Putin faces a mismatch between his ambitions and Russia’s current conventional military capabilities probably means we could take a more unpredictable and potentially escalating trajectory in the coming months,” Ms Haines said.
Current trends, she said, raise the possibility that Putin will impose martial law, refocus industrial production or take escalating military actions, which she says could include more nuclear threats.
If he thinks such threats are being ignored, Ms Haines said, he could authorize a major nuclear exercise, though the United States continues to believe there is no imminent threat that Mr Putin would approve the use of a nuclear weapon.
Washington, she said, “will remain vigilant and monitor every aspect of Russia’s strategic nuclear forces.”